Singapore

In March 1998, the Isaac Newton Institute for Mathematical Sciences was privileged to receive a visit from Dr Tony Tan, then Deputy Prime Minister of Singapore (since 2011, President of Singapore), who invited the Institute to collaborate with the National University of Singapore in organising a millennial conference on Fundamental Science: Mathematics and Theoretical Physics. I was happy to be involved in this exciting venture, which came to fruition exactly two years later. 

 

At the same time, Dr Tan told me about the planned foundation of a new Institute for Mathematical Sciences (IMS) under the aegis of the National University of Singapore, and modelled to some extent on the Newton Institute.  In the event, I became a founding member of the Scientific Advisory Board of IMS, which held its first meeting in December 2001 under the chairmanship of Roger Howe (Yale University) and hosted by the founding Director of IMS, Louis Chen.  

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This Board met each year to discuss strategy and approve future programmes of the Institute.  On one of these visits, I was honoured to be invited to tea with Lee Hsien Loong, Prime Minister of Singapore, in the Istana, the official seat of Government.  Lee Hsien Loong had read mathematics at Trinity College, Cambridge, in the early ‘70s, when I had supervised him for a term or two in Applied Mathematics. I recall a particular occasion during the miners’ strike of January/February 1972, when there was a power cut and all the lights went out during an evening supervision; we continued by candlelight!   Hsien Loong was a brilliant student, coming top in Part II of the Mathematical Tripos (an achievement formerly distinguished by the title 'Senior Wrangler') in June 1973.

In January 2006, I was interviewed at IMS by Y.K.Leong, as recorded in the October 2006 Issue of the IMS Newsletter "Imprints".

     

In April 2009, I chaired a Spring School at IMS on the fluid dynamics of Typhoons, Tsunamis, Monsoon Flooding and Atmospheric Pollution, all matters of acute concern in south-east Asia.  The School, aimed at Graduate Students from this region, was advertised by three posters in Chinese and English versions.  The lectures were published by World Scientific in 2011.                      

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Poster design: Andy Burbanks.

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The lectures were supplemented by afternoon project activity by the students working in groups of five or six.  The photo here shows a group of students modelling the spread of a contaminant in a confined environment.

The students were uniformly enthusiastic and engaged; and the weather provided  fluid dynamical stimulus in the form of short heavy downpours most afternoons!

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